The Odessa Record -

By Jon Hayashi
Pastor at Heritage Church 

Pastor's Corner

Count your blessings!

 

November 16, 2017



As we move towards Thanksgiving, obviously our “thankfulness quotient” goes up. While it’s in the forefront of our minds, we are more ready to remember to be thankful for the many blessings God has given us. But what about being thankful the rest of the year? Or what about when life is hard?

The Bible makes reference to living a life of thanksgiving not just once a year, but always and in every circumstance. And even our prayers and requests and complaints to God need to be tempered by our thanksgiving to God. Look at the following two Scriptures.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, NASB95)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7, NASB95)

Now I’ll admit, giving thanks in the midst of the storms of life is not easy. Giving thanks for circumstances like cancer, broken relationships and even death seem insincere at best, and deceptive at worst. So, how do we step back from the pain of life and thank God?

Well, the very first thing we have to do is meditate upon the character of God. We learn that He is an ever present help when IN trouble. We learn that He is a God of compassion and wants to help us when we are suffering. We learn He is a God who desires what’s best for us. We learn He’s a God who is holy and desires us to become holy.

Secondly, we have to remember how He has responded in the past to similar situations. We remember times when He has helped us before. We study the Bible and see how He was present with Daniel in the lion’s den, or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. We remember how He was with Jonah in the belly of the great sea creature, with Esther when she approached the King and with Jeremiah when rejected by the rulers and priests.

Then, we need to accept the fact that not everything that is “bad” to us is “bad” to God. God very clearly in Scripture shows us that He uses bad things and circumstances to bring about His better plan. He also uses bad situations to get our attention when we have wandered from Him. He uses difficulties to discipline us so that we’ll learn to do what’s right.

Also, keep in mind that God uses the trials and tribulations of life to mature us, develop character within us, strengthen us by teaching us perseverance through life’s struggles, and to shape and transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Next, we need to remember that God never promises to take away the difficulties of life, but He does promise to walk with us in the midst of them. I love the “Footprint Poem” for that reason. It gives us a parable to show how God carries us through the most difficult times of our lives, even when we feel like He is not there or has left us.

Finally, we have to have faith that He will remain true to His character and His actions and that He will weave it all together into something wonderful. The classic text of Romans 8:28 still rings true: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

As we put things into perspective, we allow the truth to transform our minds and hearts so that we can thank God in the good times and thank Him in the not so good. It might not make the situation we’re going through any easier, but we can allow God’s peace to fill us with the knowledge that He’s got it all in control for a greater purpose, even if we don’t know what that purpose is. In the end we can sing the lyrics of this song with sincerity.

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed. When you are discouraged thinking all is lost. Count your many blessings name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings every doubt will fly and you will be singing as the days go by.

So amid the conflict whether great or small. Do not be discouraged God is over all. Count your many blessings angels will attend; help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your blessings see what God hath done. Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

 

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